In the Holocaust scene of the Freedom Writers movie, the focal point is not as much the museum itself but the students' facial expressions and reactions to what they are experiencing while in the museum. The use of panning and zoom shots as a visual technique successfully portrays these students'...
In the Holocaust scene of the Freedom Writers movie, the focal point is not as much the museum itself but the students' facial expressions and reactions to what they are experiencing while in the museum. The use of panning and zoom shots as a visual technique successfully portrays these students' ability to take in and process what they are seeing.
At the beginning of the scene, the camera focuses on black and white pictures of Jewish children. From the cards each student picks up upon entering the museum to the pictures displayed on the walls, each face represents a child that lived in the concentration camps. Their smiles and sparkling eyes convey their innocence and hope before tragedy hit.
The camera's focus transitions to the students' faces as they walk through the museum and watch videos on what life was like in the concentration camps. The raw emotions that the students experience span from sadness and pain to shame. Expressions of guilt and remorse flash across their faces when they see cartoon drawings of Jews' faces with big noses; it reminds them of the cartoon face one of them drew in class depicting a black man with puffy lips. The reality of how horribly these children and families were treated hit close to home.
When the students walk toward two brick tunnels, the camera shifts from their faces to the tunnels. This visual technique elicits curiosity, with the viewer wondering what the tunnels represent and which path the students will take. As the frame expands, the two plaques above each tunnel draw the viewers' attention; one reads "Children and Others," the other "Able-Bodied." The scene does not show which tunnel the students choose, but the message is clear: neither one is safe.
Finally, as the students walk out the museum doors, their awed facial expressions signify a new perspective and changed attitude. It is as though they have finally realized that the world is bigger than they are, and what may have seemed important before doesn't hold the same value now. The visual techniques used throughout the scene capture the true essence of emotion and growth experienced by the students.